Thursday, October 02, 2008

Restrictive new bill threatens New Jersey Home Schoolers

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

I have been sounding the alarm all summer about possible restrictions on homeschooling freedoms here on this blog, and it is coming home to roost.

A new bill has been introduced in the New Jersey legislature (A. 3123) that threatens homeschooling freedoms in New Jersey. I was alerted by ENOCH of New Jersey today of this bill, introduced September 22, 2008.

It's a doozy, as my dad used to say. Let's let the bill speak for itself.

This bill requires a parent or guardian seeking to educate his child at home to register with the resident school district prior to the establishment of the home education program. The bill provides that the registration must include: certain descriptive information about the child, his home education supervisor, and the program; a statement that the child will be provided instruction in such subjects as required by law; evidence that the child has been properly immunized and has received necessary health and medical services; and a certification that the supervisor, all adults living in the home, and persons having legal custody of a child in a home education program have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses.

Under the bill, a home education program must provide instruction for a minimum of 180 days each year and must include courses in such areas as determined by the Commissioner of Education. The bill directs the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines for home education programs that provide for a sequential course of study for each grade, K-12. The bill directs the resident school district to lend the parent or guardian of a home schooled child copies of the school district’s planned curriculum, textbooks, and other instructional materials, as requested. The bill also provides that the resident school district must permit a student registered in a home education program to participate in the district’s extracurricular activities, including interscholastic athletics, provided that certain conditions are met. Under the bill, the district must provide the student with access to a medical or physical examination, if one is required as a condition of participation in the activity and if the school district offers the medical or physical examination to its enrolled students. The bill requires the supervisor of a home education program to maintain a portfolio of records and materials demonstrating the student’s work and progress, including the results of standardized tests and an independent evaluation of the student’s educational progress. The bill provides a process for reviewing the adequacy of home education programs. The bill also provides a process for the termination of a home education program determined to be inadequate.

Some of you who are reading may not find this any more burdensome than laws in your state, but to put it in perspective, the only thing is included in this bill that we are required to do right now is the part about 180 days.

So this is like making your car go from zero to sixty in 10 seconds.

I am hopeful that nobody will get sucked into this because of the provision that allows homeschoolers to participate in district sports. To me, that is SO not worth having them sticking their nose in my business.

I will continue to keep you informed of the threat this bill represents, so that you can become informed and make sure channels of communication are open for any call to action in the next days and weeks. New Jersey homeschoolers covet your prayers at this time.

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